Park Wavelengths - February 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The full moon rises at perigee (when the moon is closest to the center of the earth) on February 27, Sachau-da, moon of the cold winds for Kashaya Pomo. Mornings will have dramatic highs in the 6 foot range with corresponding lows in the late afternoon.
The annual seal protection measures begin on Monday, March 1st, as harbor seal pupping begins. Drakes Estero closes to boating as does South Blue Gums Beach on Tomales Bay. Harbor seals, silvery in color and much smaller than elephant seals, will begin returning to the protected coves along Drakes Estero and in Tomales Bay to deliver and nurse pups. The parents may leave the pup ashore for short periods of time while they catch a meal in the water—be sure to give all seals on land a wide berth to allow them to rest during this critical period of their life cycle.
Elephant seals continue to depart the Headlands with plenty of activity between males after the females and pups turning up on Limantour Beach and Drakes Beach. Many of the young seals are molting and their paler old coat will appear torn up. This raggedy appearance is normal and they are conserving energy by lying on the beach as their new fur grows.
Marin County Open Space leads a walk at Chimney Rock on Wednesday, February 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Meet at the parking lot and be dressed for wild and wooly weather! More flowers bloomed over the past holiday weekend warm spell. Pink Checkerbloom appeared and plenty of elephant seals may also be viewed.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The new moon rises on Saturday, February 13, closest to the spring equinox. It signals the start of Chinese Lunar New Year, the year of the Tiger! High tides in the 5–6 foot range arrive in the mornings with lows late in the day.
The Northern Elephant Seal season has peaked for the year. A high of 1276 total seals were counted along the various Headland locations; slightly lower than last years numbers, with more males counted this year than last year. Several males surfed the 7-foot tides up to the Drake Beach parking lot last week; returning with the next high tide to more comfortable nap spots on lower sand beaches. Whale sightings are at their customary February lull. We'll hope to see the return northern migration beginning in a few weeks.
Wildflowers continue to bloom thanks to the cycles of rain and sun; lot's of miner’s lettuce with its tiny white flowers and huge leaves; Bay trees have begun to flower; chocolate lilies or mission bells have been seen along the Chimney Rock trail. Domestic daffodils are in bloom at the Hostel in the old bulb farm area.
All park visitor centers will be open on the Monday, February 15, Presidents Holiday weekend, and shuttles will be operating if the weather is clear.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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